First, let’s get this out of the way: LeBron James and Anthony Davis’ desire that the Lakers trade Russell Westbrook is not breaking news. For one thing, it was already reported in August that James preferred the Westbrook trade to Buddy Hield.
And like, does anyone think Davis agreed to play more position to make room for Westbrook because he did not do Want to trade? That James and Davis hosted Westbrook for dinner to discuss their convenience because they weren’t on the plane? exactly.
But with that said, as this season begins to unravel fast before our very eyes as Westbrook is being prosecuted by a coach most likely on the verge of firing, it’s worth discussing how we ended up here. And this week, we got a few reminders of that as everyone involved tries to pass the blame on to others anonymously.
The first one came via veteran NBA insider Mark Stein, who mentioned in his latest Substack column that James and Davis Both He preferred the Westbrook deal over the Hield one:
Westbrook’s fitness as Laker alongside James and Davis proved heavy as countless skeptics said, when Fogel’s chiefs—at James and Davis’s behest— scrapped a planned Sacramento-based Buddy Heald deal to acquire Westbrook instead.
Not only is Stein a Hall of Famer as dependable as it comes, but in addition to being backed by both common sense and all I’ve heard, Eric Pincus of Ovarian Report, who is always connected to everything at the Lakers.
Pincus wrote this week that James has been a “significant supporter” of the Westbrook trade in his own breakdown of where things have gone wrong for the team this season (emphasis mine):
If Westbrook’s move is fundamentally flawed, who is to blame?
Rob Pelinka is the team’s vice president of basketball operations and general manager. The decision ultimately rests on his resume.
But Sources also say that James was a significant supporter of acquiring Westbrook. Does he bear any responsibility if he and his agent, Rich Paul, of Klutch Sports, put too much pressure on the team to get it done?
Now, again, is any of this shocking? Not real. This was mostly known for months by anyone who was paying even a fleeting level of interest. But still, while we’re all trying to properly blame this garbage fire, it’s worth remembering that part of the reason James and Davis are here, is that they get a bit of a say on the staff, this season has made clear the flaws of this model.
Does this mean that everything that went wrong is Davis and James’ fault? of course not. They are current players! They should not be expected to have the level of current knowledge and emotional disposition that top executives have when making personnel decisions. Do you think they comb analytics and watch a lot of movies? This is, literally, not their job!
What we can learn from this, however, is that as it turns out, there is value in having a general manager – or at least a shadow CEO – with enough wits and a backbone to undo their stars’ worst ideas. As someone who was also a significant proponent of acquiring Westbrook, I wouldn’t pretend that this guy is me. I was wrong. But I’m also not in charge of the Lakers team. So, after the current person in this seat has finished using Vogel as a meat shield for many of his roster building bugs, anyone rooting for this team should hope that whether it’s Pelinka or Jeanie Buss or one of the Rambii, anyone is still in charge when The dust settles on this disaster, takes a long look at how things have gone wrong, and learns from it to move on.
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